This new school year will be the first time that teachers in NYC will be evaluated using the evaluation system imposed by State Education Commissioner John King. Under the new system every teacher will receive a score ranging from 0 to 100 and this number will determine if the teacher is deemed Highly Effective, Effective, Developing or Ineffective.

One of the most shocking parts of the new system is that teachers who are measured ineffective on the test-based component of the evaluation must be labeled ineffective overall, no matter what they receive from their principal based on the observation of their teaching (see the King decision, p. 37 and p. 38).

The test-based component, 40% of teachers evaluations, outweighs the observation component, which is 60%.

Here’s how this fuzzy math works out:

Continue Reading…

MORE kicked off the summer series by taking a look at the effects of high stakes testing in our schools. Parents from Change the Stakes joined us to discuss why a growing parent movement against the high stakes nature of these tests is mounting not just in NYC but statewide and nationally. We discuss HST and its use as a vehicle for enabling destructive policies such as school closures and ranking and sorting students that leads to the school to prison pipeline. The socioeconomic and racial disparity in these policies has been downplayed and must be brought to light. This was a great opportunity to discuss teacher and parent concerns as well as ways in which we can support each other and build a movement towards enabling schools that our students deserve.

The video is an hour and a half extracted from about 3 hours. Breakout groups are not included. Thanks to Jia, John, Janine, Marissa and Gloria.

 
https://vimeo.com/70236696

Commentary below by Norm Scott

Frankly, for all you UFT election freaks. I consider events like this way more important for MORE to do than run in elections — because the first stage of organizing and mobilizing is education ourselves and others who may not be aware of the full impact of high stakes testing which is behind all the assaults on public education, teachers and their unions.

I want to point out that MORE is more than a caucus just running in an election and then going away for 3 years. MORE is committed to engaging in open discussions that do not seem to take place in many places inside the union as part of the “educate, organize, mobilize” theme.

This was the first in our summer series of 4.

Coming next July 25: UFT Leadership, Friend or Foe – an analysis of the somewhat delicate relationship between a minority caucus with the leadership. How far do you go without helping the anti-union enemies? See the current amazing debate on Diane Ravitch blog which has generated well over 200 comments. Thanks Diane. http://dianeravitch.net/2013/07/10/my-friend-randi-weingarten/

I extracted Michael Fiorillo’s response to internal attacks from teachers on the union which i posted at ednotes:

Fiorillo: Better Randi than no union at all

I made this point:

The fundamental nature of the lack of democracy internally is a bigger threat to the life of the union than the external – in the long run.

Unless the UFT/AFT starts thinking about democratizing – I won’t go into the gory details — they will find more and more calls for things like desertification coming from the ed deform plants in the teacher corps and even some dedicated unionists who have had enough. When our people on our side start calling for the right not to pay dues or for the union right of dues checkoff to be taken away we are in dangerous territory. The lack of interest in voting in the UFT is a warning. (In Chicago 60% of the teachers voted – and retirees do not vote.)

[Note Peter Goodman's response that the UFT is forming a committee to study the issue -- one of the big jokes that will lead to things like "more robo calls" more ads on TV, etc. -- like we don't really need to change anything structurally, just nudge people - discounting that the Unity Caucus Ch ldrs held bagel parties to encourage the vote but Unity suffered a major drop in votes.]

MORE is committed to find a way to counter these anti-union calls while fighting for internal democratization.

Shame on New Action for giving up the fight for a democratic union, something that was high on their agenda until 2003 when Randi bought them off.

For those not familiar: MORE got around 5000 votes in the last election and gets no Exec Bd seats or any the 800 delegates to the AFT convention while New Action which got significant less votes than MORE in every division gets 10 Exec Bd seats (out of 101) as a reward for endorsing Mulgrew.

Given that only 18% of the working teachers voted, what does this say to those people who did bother to vote for MORE?

Read the Results of MORE’s Mayoral Race Survey!
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 The fight to protect and strengthen public education and our unions did not begin with Mayor Bloomberg and it will not end with him. The upcoming Mayoral election in New York City may provide an opportunity to create a shift in local education policy, polices that for the last ten years have devastated our schools and our profession.  The UFT has endorsed a candidate for the New York City Democratic Party’s nomination for mayor, Bill Thompson.

The real strength of our union lies in its ability to use collective action to advance the goals of our members. Working with politicians can be part of a union’s strategy, but cannot substitute for genuine grassroots organizing. Union members need to understand how the current political system works and be prepared to take advantage of opportunities it might present for working people and unions to advance their goals. Elections can be one of those opportunities. However, there is a well-established pattern of campaign promises that evaporate in office. Furthermore, despite their rhetoric, both of the main political parties are deeply implicated in the privatization of our public schools and the attacks on teacher unions. For these reasons, stakeholders who deeply care about public education need to be informed and have a voice concerning New York City’s upcoming mayoral election.

We cannot protect public education without an educated and organized rank and file whose voice and feedback is not only valued by our union, but drives our union.  If we do not find a way to seek and hear our members’ input and involve them in the in the major decisions facing our union, then our union’s advocacy will always be seen as “the UFT”, as opposed to an extension of our collective power.

Because of this, we must have a process to decide if we should endorse and which candidate we endorse that is inclusive and provides an opportunity to collect input from all of our members. This kind of democracy and transparency is essential in order to build a member-driven union.  The UFT leadership has not provided a mechanism to gather authentic and broad-based feedback.  Our union leaders should not make executive decisions about important issues such as a mayoral endorsement or a teacher evaluation system, without a more inclusive process.  Our members deserve a voice and a vote.  The mayoral endorsement, while brought to the delegate assembly, was a decision pre-packaged and ready-made: signs were pre-printed and Mr. Thompson was waiting backstage.  This illusion of democratic process undermines the strength of our union and disconnects our members from fully engaging in the important work of our union, effectively weakening the potential of our collective power and action.

MORE wants to know what UFT members actually think about the upcoming Mayoral race.  Please take the time to fill our survey below and stay tuned for follow up reporting and action in the fall.

Together we can build a better union!

Take MORE’s Mayoral Race Survey: http://tinyurl.com/MayorSurvey

Here is a quick overview of where some of the Mayoral Candidates stand on important education issues:

de Blasio Lhota Liu Quinn Thompson Weiner
Believes in ending Mayoral Control and has put forth a vision for democratic governance of our schools. No No No*has agreed to give up some appointed PEP seats No No No
Believes there must be a change to current policing policies in our schools that moves authority over school safety officers from the NYPD and to school communities. No No Yes No Yes No
Has publicly committed to reducing class size. Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
Believes charter schools should not be given space in public school buildings and/or believes in a moratorium on charter school co-locations and/or has called for current co-located charters to pay rent. Yes No Yes No No No
Believes in a moratorium on school closings and/or has stated that school closings as a policy is flawed. Yes No Yes No Yes Unclear
Believes teacher evaluation should be tied to student test scores and/or supports merit-based pay for teachers. No public statement Yes Not as currently implemented No Doesn’t want to “take anything off the table” No public statement
Has publicly stated he/she will provide a new contract with retroactive pay for municipal union members who have worked without a contract. No No Yes No No No

 

Click here to RSVP by Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/kt3x2yp

WHAT? Picket demanding an immediate, rapid and unbiased investigation by the Chancellor’s office into allegations that a Queens Principal called African American teachers she was firing “big lipped,” “nappy haired,” and “gorillas.”

WHEN? 12 noon, Monday July 8th.

WHERE? In front of Chancellor Walcott’s offices at DOE Headquarters in Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan (4/5/6/N to City Hall)

ENDORSEMENTS:  Teachers and staff from PAIHS Elmhurst and around the city, Councilwoman Jullissa Ferreras, Assemblyman Francisco Moya, Kevin Powell and BK Nation, United Federation of Teachers (UFT), Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE). [List of endorsements in formation]. 


CONTACT: 
Peter Lamphere, [email protected]
Kevin Powell, [email protected]

WHY? Pan American International High School will be without any African American teachers next year, because two teachers have been fired after a Queens Principal, Minerva Zanca, made racist comments about them in closed-door meetings with her assistant principal.  The third African American teacher is leaving the school because of severe budget cuts to her hugely successful Theater program which were racially motivated.

We demand that there is a full investigation into these allegations and, if they are substantiated, that the DOE hold the principal accountable to its zero-tolerance policy against discrimination.  We also demand that the discontinuances of the personnel involved (Teachers John Flanagan and Heather Hightower and AP Anthony Riccardo) be reversed.

Local Councilmember Julissa Ferreras says “The allegations brought against Ms. Zanca are very serious and concern me deeply. As a representative of an extremely diverse district, I cannot and will not stand for this type of behavior.”
 
Kevin Powell, president of BK Nation, adds “It is not only important to have high standards for our public school teachers but we must also support the good ones, like these teachers, who are completely dedicated to their young people. I find it unacceptable that a principal can engage in this kind of conduct without any repercussions. We are not going to stop until due justice and process is served here.”
See media coverage on WNYC and PIX11 News for more details. 


¿DÓNDE? En frente de la oficina del Rector de Educación, Dennis Walcott. 52 Chambers St., Manhattan, la sede del Departamento de Educación  (Trenes 4/5/6/N a City Hall).


PATROCINIOS: Los maestros de varios lugares alrededor de la ciudad y facultad del colegio Pan American International High School, Concejal Julissa Ferreras, Asambleísta Francisco Moya, Kevin Powell y BK Nation, Federación Unida de Maestros (UFT), Movimiento del Educadores del Base (MORE) [Lista de endosos en formación]


CONTACTA: 
Peter Lamphere, [email protected]m
Kevin Powell, [email protected]


¿POR QUÉ? El año escolar entrante, Pan American International High School quedará sin maestros afro-americanos porque dos maestros fueron despedidos después de que la directora, Minerva Zanca, hizo algunos comentarios racistas tras las puertas privadas de su oficina con Anthony Riccardo, su vicedirector. Una tercera afro-americana también se aparta de su posición como directora de teatro porque ha sufrido demasiadas cortas a su presupuesto a mano de Zanca, que fueron motivadas por razones raciales.

Estamos exigiendo que haya una investigación a fondo en cuanto a estas alegaciones y, en caso de que salgan verdaderas, que el Departamento de Educación ejerza su política de no tolerancia contra discriminación. También exigimos que las descontinuaciones de los dos maestros, John Flanagan y Heather Hightower, y el vicedirector, Anthony Riccardo se inviertan.

La Consejal local Julissa Ferreras dice “Las acusaciones presentadas contra la Sra. Zanca son muy graves y me preocupan profundamente. Como representante de un distrito muy diverso, no puedo y no voy a permitir este tipo de comportamiento.”

Kevin Powell, el presidente de BK Nation, asegura que, “No solo es importante tener estándares altos para nuestros maestros de escuelas públicas, sino también hay que apoyar a los buenos maestros, como estos, que son completamente dedicados a sus estudiantes. Lo considero inaceptable que una directora pueda participar en este tipo de conducta sin consecuencias. No vamos a dejar de luchar hasta que la justicia apropiada y el proceso adecuado se hayan realizado. 
Vean la cobertura de los medios de comunicación en WNYC y Noticias PIX11 para más detalles.

2013 MORE Summer Series

Discuss, Debate, Educate!

Forums, Guest Speakers, Open-Discussions, Get-together’s

RSVP and share our facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/177003385802348/

Every Other Thursday this Summer!

Local 138  138 Ludlow St  (btwn. Rivington & Stanton) NYC  4:00-7:00PM

Happy Hour $3 draft beer, $3 wines, $3 well drinks
 Nearest Transit Stations: Delancey St. (F), Essex St.  (J,M,Z) 2nd Ave St (F)

The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) is a caucus in the United Federation of Teachers that was created in 2011 to transform our union into one that will stand up and fight for the rights of educators, students and communities.  MORE is building a movement against privatization, school closings, and high stakes testing. MORE challenged the UFT leadership in the Spring 2013 union election because we believe in democratic, rank and file led union. Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.

 

July 11: High Stakes Testing and the Schools Our Children Deserve

We’re kicking off the summer series by taking a look at the effects of high stakes testing in our schools. Parents from Change the Stakes will be joining us to discuss why a growing parent movement against the high stakes nature of these tests is mounting not just in NYC but statewide and nationally. Discuss HST and its use as a vehicle for enabling destructive policies such as school closures & ranking and sorting students that leads to the school to prison pipeline. The socioeconomic and racial disparity in these policies has been downplayed and must be brought to light. This will be a great opportunity to discuss teacher and parent concerns as well as ways in which we can support each other and build a movement towards enabling schools that our students deserve.

 

July 25: UFT/AFT Leadership: Friend or Foe?

A full understanding of the role the UFT/AFT leadership plays is a crucial step for any caucus. Through what lens does an opposition caucus in the UFT view Unity, the dominant party in power? As potential partner, foe or something in between?

·       To what extent can a caucus challenge the leadership without being accused of promoting an antiunion mentality amongst a disaffected membership?

·       Can a caucus create pressure to force changes in policy or would such changes be cosmetic, co-opting the opposition while strengthening the leadership?

Come to an open debate and discussion on these crucial questions that must be explored before any caucus can grow!


 

August 8: How Do We Fight For a New Contract?

UFT leadership’s only fair contract strategy is to influence the Democratic mayoral primary with the hope that the new mayor will feel obliged to the UFT. The problem with this is that after the election, the UFT will have no leverage over the Mayor and we will be negotiating at our weakest. The lack of real UFT mobilization has given the green light to the DOE to violate our contract, increase the number of observations, and use partial observations against teachers.

Why Union Contracts Are Good for Educators-and the Public.

Strategies for winning a contract that: can protect us from the worst aspects of the new evaluation system

How do we protect educators’ and students Rights?

Supporting Teacher Professionalism & Checking Administrative Power

August 22: The First Days of School: How to Build an Active Chapter 

The first days of school are a busy time for teachers. In addition to setting up our classrooms and preparing lessons for incoming students, we are typically inundated with mandates and requests from administration. This summer, the Movement of Rank and File Educators will hold a discussion and training session for all teachers (not just chapter leaders and delegates) on the First Days of School, and how we can get off on the right foot educating, organizing, and mobilizing our coworkers.  Topics include but are not limited to:

·       Overcoming anti unionism/E4E

·       Overcoming apathy

·       Overcoming fear/Dealing with difficult supervisors

·       How to get your UFT chapter started and building a consultation committee

·       Getting support for first-year teachers?
When is it time to file a grievance about class sizes, programs or other matters?

If you have any ideas based on your first days of school, please contact MORE!

 

Email MORE at :  [email protected]

Visit us at:  morecaucusnyc.org

facebook.com/MOREcaucusNYC Twitter.com/MOREcaucusNYC

 

The following is an op-ed written by MORE’s Joanna Yip about the effect of the Regents scoring problems on a particularly vulnerable population.

Dear Editor,

Yesterday, SchoolBook, the Daily News, and Gotham Schools reported on the Regents scoring debacle that is unfolding all over the city. I would like to call attention to the ways in which this process has already and may continue to disproportionately hurt English language learners (ELLs) in New York City. I am a high school English teacher in a school that serves ELLs exclusively, and I am furious about what this process will mean for my students.

 

According to the NYCDOE Office of English Language Learner 2013 Demographic Report, 28.7% of the city’s ELLs are in high school. 74.2% of these students were born abroad. Citywide, 69.2% are eligible for free lunch (the city wide average is 55.6%). Many high school ELLs arrived in the US in the middle of their adolescence and only had a few years to both learn English and to master a high school curriculum that assumed that they had been educated in the United States their entire lives. Imagine growing up in the United States and moving to Japan when you’re 14, and being expected to become fluent in Japanese and pass all of the exit exams required for high school graduation in Japanese. Even with translations, this is a challenge. Yet, for two of the fastest growing immigrant groups in the city who speak Arabic and Bengali, none of the Regents are translated into either of these languages.

 

As is well known, standardized tests are inadequate instruments for assessing the learning of English language learners. These students are often penalized for their still-developing language development, even when their content knowledge matches their American-born peers. English language learners typically need 5-7 years to become truly comfortable enough with English, so asking them to perform well on high-stakes Regents exams when they have only been in the country for 2-3 years is a very tall order, but one that these students take on with diligence and hard work. Shael Polakow-Suransky, formerly a principal of a school that serve high school ELLs exclusively, said it himself yesterday on the Brian Lehrer show that ELLs typically need more than 4 years to successfully perform well on those exams and graduate. Because of the increasing challenge of passing the Regents exams, graduation rates for ELLs continue to lag behind the general population. 

 

With this in mind, approximately 20 high schools in the city, all of which serve only or very large populations of ELLs, petitioned to have separate scoring sites for the Regents exams. The idea was that ELLs should be graded by teachers who have a familiarity with the writing and usage particular to those students who are learning a new language. These teachers, because of their expertise in teaching this population, understand that ELLs can still demonstrate understanding of content, even if their syntax and grammar may not be fluent. 

 

In mid-May, I attended a training session for site supervisors where I learned that the exams of ELLs would be graded in separate scoring sites, that their exams would be routed specifically to be graded by teachers who teach ELLs.  This sounded very promising and supportive of immigrant students. When scoring began on Friday, scorers at my site began seeing a few very disconcerting patterns.  The first problem was that, because many exams were not scanned properly, we saw that we were reading tests of students that came from high schools that we knew for a fact did not have many ELL students. Why were we scoring their exams when we were only supposed to be scoring the exams of ELL students? More importantly, this raised a much more serious concern, which was whether or not the exams of ELL students were being graded by teachers who have never had experience teaching ELLs.  If that was the case, we would be seeing lower scores for ELLs because the norming process for grading does not include any training on how to grade the responses of ELLs.  The Regents scoring guides for all subjects pretty much only use anchor and practice papers written by native English writers. This is true for all subject areas.

 

We found out today that, in order to route the ELL exams to the ELL scoring sites to be read by ELL teachers in the McGraw-Hill system, the students’ exam booklets had to be labeled with a particular label that would indicate that the student was an ELL when the test was scanned. When a teacher pulled up an ELL exam on the McGraw-Hill web application, there would be an indication that the student was an ELL. Yet, many administrators across the city, never received instructions, or received inaccurate instructions for placing this extra barcode label on their ELL students’ exams.  As a result, ELL students exam booklets were not labeled to indicate that they were ELLs, and were graded by teachers who have never had any training in how to score responses written by ELLs.

 

Yesterday, principals in schools that serve a large number of ELLs began receiving some of their students’ test scores back. Sure enough, there was a huge discrepancy in what teachers would have expected their students to score, based on their knowledge of the students’ classroom performance, to what they actually scored.  Furthermore, as of this evening, the sites that were designated to score ELL exams were not operational today and might not be operational tomorrow. There is still a large number of ELLs whose exams have not yet been scored. Who is going to score these exams? If the scoring sites with teachers who are specifically trained to read ELL exams are not scoring them this week, does that mean that the still remaining ELL exams are going to be scored by a very frustrated group of teachers this weekend along with the general city-wide pool of exams?

 

Not only are these tests unfair to English language learners.  This scoring process means that ELLs are going to take yet another hit because they are not being scored fairly either.

Graduations are happening, and schools are figuring out what this means for the many ELLs who often have to wait to the last minute to find out if they are going to graduate. But there are longer-term consequences as well. As the tests have gotten more difficult to pass because the standards have increased, ELLs are going to continue struggle to overcome these hurdles, but appear to be receiving very little support from the system, which seeks to hold these students accountable. Furthermore, as the teacher evaluation system comes down the pipe, what does this kind of grading system mean for the teachers and schools who serve these students?

 

When we first started the scoring process last Friday, I was very confident that this process could not only be more efficient and fair, but could mean an increase in instructional days because teachers would need less time to administer and score the exams. I have lost all faith in this system at this point, and I am incredibly disappointed in the mayor and the NYC Department of Education for allowing this to happen. All of these glitches should have been anticipated. I myself predicted back in May that exams might get lost on the way to Connecticut, and sure enough, the Daily News reported that 80 Regents exams are nowhere to be found. When my students come to me to ask what happened with their Regents exam scores, what should I tell them?

 Joanna Yip

By: Two Social Studies Teachers for MORE

By nature, social studies teachers do two things: they make it their business to know what’s going on, and they try to answer why is this happening. Perhaps this is why many of the bloggers you read just happen to be social studies teachers.

For high school social studies teachers, this June marks the first attempt at centralizing the grading process for our two exams: Global History and Geography and United States History and Government. According to the plan, student exams, when finished, are placed in a shipping box and sent (to Conneticut, of all places) to be scanned by McGraw-Hill, a private company. The scanned version of the exam is then presented to a teacher for grading over the Internet using software that has been developed by McGraw-Hill.

Teachers have been assigned to report to central grading hubs located throughout the city’s five boroughs. Each hub can accommodate approximately two hundred teachers. The process is supposed to be simple: teachers go to a URL, located on a McGraw-Hill-owned domain, and use their official Department of Education username and password (the same used for email, SESIS, ARIS and the payroll portal [each built by other for-profit corporations]). Upon entering the password, the teacher is presented the test that he or she has been assigned to grade and grades the different portions of the exams.

A few things need to go right in order for this to happen. Well, a lot of things need to go right in order for this to happen. First, the exams must reach their destination and be scanned over the two-day weekend. I’m sure McGraw-Hill swears they were. Then, the Internet connection between the exam locations and the user (the teacher, located at the school) needs to be up and running—and it needs to continue to operate throughout the entire process. Lastly, the servers (including the file server, where the scanned version of the exams are stored and the authentication servers that validate the usernames and passwords for each teacher) must be functioning.

Now, the original schedule for the week included having social studies teachers grade between the days of Monday and Thursday. We were supposed to return to our assigned school on Friday. Remember that original schedule. The fiasco that has ensued since yesterday wouldn’t be the same without referring to this original schedule.

On Monday, we all sat around while the “system” presented exams on our screens to grade. Many teachers were not able to log in (a true problem with the authentication server). Others were able to log in, but not able to access a single exam item to grade. Although the system listed many exams available to be graded, it simply did not present these exams to teachers’ screens for grading. After two hours of sitting around in the borough of Brooklyn, teachers were told to go back to their assigned schools. The system had a problem, the supervisors said. It couldn’t download the scanned exams. Teachers in Queens and Manhattan were given this news one hour later (a noon “dismissal to site” order was given at one hub at least in Queens; a 12:30 “dismissal to site” was given in at least one hub in Manhattan). At that point, teachers in all three boroughs were informed that Friday “may be a grading day.”

Overnight, the system seemed to be doing just fine. Exams were processed and seemed ready to be delivered to teachers’ screens at their “hub” schools. When teachers arrived this morning, everything seemed to be up and running. Now this was similar to the experience that high school English teachers had during the January Regents: The exams weren’t ready to be viewed on the first day, but by the second day, everything was up and running. So imagine the surprise felt on people’s faces when, at around 9:25 (just 25 minutes after everyone in the system was logged in and grading the exams), the system started to experience glitches. It would hang for long periods of time before presenting an item to grade. It would not present exams. It would freeze completely, forcing the user to log out and log back in to try to access more exams.

It limped along until about 11:30 AM (remember that time) and the folks in charge thought they had fixed the glitch. But by about 12:30 in the borough of Brooklyn and 1:00 in the borough of Queens (unknown as of this moment in Manhattan) teachers were, once again, sent back to their assigned schools and told to come back again on Wednesday.

Wednesday was another disaster with the computer system crashing and teachers being sent back to their home schools for a third straight day. Hey, we though this mayor was so concerned with the environment, yet he has people driving back and forth!

Thursday the system worked until 2:00pm then shut down. At this point we have frustrated, demoralized teachers grading exams. That’s not fair to anyone. Per session (over-time) hours are being offered for the weekend. Can this money be better used going to our classrooms and our children?

Update: Friday, over a week and half after the exams were given the system continues to fail. To say teachers are annoyed and mentally drained would be an understatement. We are not robots and this week of a fiasco, out of our home schools, in am environment where we are treated as nothing more than factory workers, teachers are “sick and tired”. The crowning moment was when we were notified that we were required to report back to the grading centers on Monday. Remember if we were in our home schools doing this the right way, we would be done already a long time ago. We try to remain as objective as possible when grading, but we’re not machines and this deteriorating situation has to be affecting the grades. Usually we use this time of year to clean up our rooms, organize our files, collaborate with our colleagues, and prepare for some of the ridiculous new reforms that seem to make its way to schools every year.

Many of us who have been assigned to reeducation—I mean, grading centers—will miss the most important day of the year, graduation day. We all know the media, politicians (both parties) and corporations have attacked teachers and our unions saying we’re the ones who are anti-children, but truth be told, watching “our kids” graduate is our favorite day of the year. Not allowing us to watch our own student’s graduate, the chance to spend one last moment celebrating with them, is an extreme disappointment for us all who have watched our students grow for the past four years.

The greatest travesty is as class-size continues to increase; after-school programs have been eliminated; arts and music, and many other courses have been reduced; yet millions of dollars are being spent on a flawed system. Where are all the “private sector always does it better” folks now? The grading system is impersonal: read the essay, punch in a score, and move on to the next one. This is supposed to a more accurate, fairer system? We think not. The art of teaching and grading continues to be done away with. Cookie-cutter rubrics, scripted lesson plans, standardized testing, and now computerized grading. Millions of dollars has been siphoned off from our public school children instead it goes to further fill the pockets of Bloomberg’s cronies and their corporations who only look to “monetize” our children

There isn’t anyone, even the most corrupt politician, who wouldn’t agree that this money being wasted on a flawed grading system could not be better utilized by going to our children, where it belongs!

So as exceptional social studies teachers we have learned the key to any great lesson is great questions.

The state law says teachers can’t grade their own students’ exams, why did this mayor feel the need to take it one step further and start this new multi-million dollar system?

Why are charter schools excused from this process?

Can the money being diverted to McGraw-Hill be better used for our children and their schools?

If teachers are being evaluated on these tests, how do we know if we have have improved or not without grading the final test?

How can we help our children improve if we don’t grade their last exam?

Is standardized grading the right answer to help all our children become “college and career” ready?

Isn’t a teacher who has taught the student better prepared to grade their essays and know if they have developed their skills?

Does the regents exam and the grading rubric take into account the child’s cognitive skills, socio-economic situation, and level of fluency with the English language?